CHINESE GOVERNMENT FORCES reportedly have raided Microsoft offices across the country.
Reuters yesterday reported that the China state Administration of Industry and Commerce had made "sudden visits" to Microsoft's premises in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu but had declined to give reasons for doing so, supposedly because the request had been made outside business hours.
It has now transpired that copies of financial statements and emails were taken, with the company accused of breaking strict anti-monopoly rules, with senior staff also under direct investigation, though the exact nature of the breaches is not clear.
The relationship between the US technology giant and Chinese communist authorities has become increasingly strained in recent months, with China expressing suspicion over the security of western technology against surveillance by national security services such as the US National Security Agency (NSA).
Earlier this year the Chinese government banned its departments from installing Windows 8 with a report on state television accusing the software of being riddled with spyware at the behest of US security services.
Activists have also reported that Microsoft's cloud storage service One Drive was being disrupted within the country.
In spite of this Microsoft still intends to release its Xbox One gaming console in China this September.
A Microsoft spokeswoman said, "We aim to build products that deliver the features, security and reliability customers expect and we're happy to answer the government's questions."
Microsoft is not the only company to fall afoul of the Chinese authorities. Earlier this year Chinese officials began advising financial institutions to stop using IBM server equipment for fear that it contains back doors.
Similarly, the US government is in the midst of an ongoing assessment of the recent purchase of IBM's small server division by Chinese company Lenovo, owing to similar fears of espionage. Chinese regulators recently approved the $2.3bn deal. µ